Tales of Crossing the Border
Juan Gallegos, Christian Placencia, Gabriel Navarro
It’s common for immigrants to view America as the land
of opportunity where hard work earns you a better
life. Each new person that crossed the border has
their own story: in fact, Santa Cruz County has more
than 58,000 of them. While most fairytales have nice
endings, not all immigrants live happily ever after.
Many think life will be easy when they come to
American, but often, it’s much harden than they
Douglas Keegan of the Santa Cruz County Immigration
Project said that most stories about immigrants start
out the same, people looking for opportunity.
“People come here to work, not to get welfare,” he
said. “People come for a better life for themselves
and their families. Many want to be reunited and live
together, not because they’re unhappy with where
Sometimes people’s situations get so bad in their own
country that they leave and risk everything for a
better life. This was the case for both Vanessa and
Lourdes, two migrant women now living in a Watsonville
Lourdes had one simple wish, to come to the US. She
believed that she would be able to get anything she
wanted. Lourdes purchased a fake mica, a.k.a.
greencard, that cost her $500 and another $250 for her
“El miedo más grande que tenía por mi hijo, era cruzar
en diferente tiempo,” said Vanessa. “Pensé que nunca
iba a verlo otra vez.”
When Lourdes finally arrived in the US she was
reunited with her child, but found a different country
than she imagined.
Vanessa was also thinking of her child when she came
over, a child she was still pregnant with. Vanessa’s
migration to the US began with an airplane ride to
Tijuana. When arriving in Tijuana, she had to find a
way to sneak across.
“If you come here without permission you face a lot of
dangers including death,” said Keegan, who said that
many die from car accidents in the attempt to cross,
while others just can’t survive the harsh conditions.
“Since 9/11 they’ve made crossing the border much
harder. This forces people to go to more remote areas
like deserts and mountains where it is more
dangerous,” said Keegan.
“A mí me regió un coyote,” said Vanessa. Coyotes
(illegal immigration transporters) provide a very
popular method to cross the border.
Often it takes several attempts to make it across.
According to Keegan, “25 to 50 percent of the people
get caught or stopped the first time. Often they get
sent back and try to enter through a different
location, then they succeed.”
It took Vanessa three attempts to cross the border
before she finally got through.
Vanessa said “Caminé desde las 3 de la mañana, hasta
las 7 la próxima noche. En cuanto el coyote me cruzó
sobre la loma, me escondí en un camion, abajo de un
montón de paja—sin poderme mover, ni hablar y sin
comer por horas.”
Vanessa found herself pregnant and alone in a country
where she didn’t speak the language. Vanessa had to
work in the fields pregnant, under the hot sun, and
receive pay below minimum wage. Now Vanessa lives in
a women’s homeless shelter with her 2-year-old
daughter. She still has a hard time finding a job
because she has no papers.
Lourdes said, “mucha gente piensa que va a ser fácil
agarrar dinero en es Estados Unidos, pero la verdad el
trabajo es duro y paga poquito.”
It was hard for Lourdes to find work, but she
eventually found a job in the strawberry fields. She
was paid below minimum wage.
Despite hardships, Lourdes said that she would never
move back to México, “Es defícil vivir en los Estados
Unidos, pero es major que en México.”